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Bart Davenport 

Palaces (Antenna Farm)

Wednesday, Sep 17 2008
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Bart Davenport's electro-funk side project Honeycut earned Gnarls Barkley comparisons in 2006, but his latest solo outing isn't so easy to pin down. Nor should it be, considering how the Oakland mainstay has dug wholeheartedly into everything from growling mod-garage (see his late-'90s band the Loved Ones) to bookish twee and silky pop-R&B fusion (see a trio of solo records earlier this decade). Breezy and soulful, Palaces yields whiffs of all the above, aided in its casual anachronism by collaborator Kelley Stoltz, who knows a thing or two about hopping back through decades. Some tracks recall the sleepy charms of Chad and Jeremy or Belle and Sebastian, while the meticulous, orchestral-kissed construction of others are worthy of Burt Bacharach. As if to reward hungry Honeycut fans, funk seeps into the dreamy "Jon Jon" and the psych-tinged "Born to Suffer," each as hip-swaying as it is smart. For further proof of Davenport's diversity, "A Young One" has deft twinkles of Motown and "Dangerous One" is a stripped-down slice of slow-burning country. What's so miraculous is how smoothly these stylistic exercises fit together, as if they're not so different after all.

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Doug Wallen

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